Over the years I’ve been taught by many instructors in the art of Shotokan karate. All of them having different teaching styles and all bring something new to offer, but one in particular will always stand out above the rest. It was and still is his club that I train at today 22 years on and although I don’t see him as much as I used to, the techniques and advice he has given me stay with me. What makes him so great isn’t just the number of National, European and World titles he has won, but also the down to Earth, good hearted nature within which you feel comfortable in his presence. The fact that he is approachable is shown by the feeling that you get with the mutual respect in conversation. There is no me and you, but a sense of equality. If I try to explain it better I could only liken it to when you go on a night out and you see the small minority of door men or bouncers as you were giving it the big “I am.” This attitude comes across as cocky, negative and can spoil a night out just because some idiot wants to use their job as an excuse to show off and cause trouble. Being able to handle yourself looks a lot better and gains a lot more respect when it is kept on the quiet. When you are at your best, you don’t need to prove anything to anybody except yourself. This is Ronnie Christopher, a man I’m proud to call my instructor, somebody I’m proud to say that I’ve been taught by one of the best in the world.
I remember turning up for my first lesson at 7 with you standing in front of me, me with a pair of shin protectors (God knows why) telling us how karate is for self defence only and showing me how to clench a fist properly. Over the next few weeks you started started to show me my first (Kihon) kata and more techniques, but you didn’t just teach me karate. You taught me my left and right! You used to say, step forward with your left leg! I’d duly oblige before you told me you meant my other left. I still remember years ago you saying which hand do you write with? Before I’d even lifted my hand you said to me you write with your right so the other one is your left. I use this still today when I pass down what you have taught me through teaching and it’s amazing to think how these little mannerisms have stayed with me all these years. These are things that will live on from generation to generation when we both inevitably draw to the end in the circle of life.
Confidence is something that I lacked as a child. Even today I struggle to find the balance between confidence and not appearing to be cocky, airing on the side of less confident as to not offend others, but within the dojo or competition it is a different story. You always believed in me and when you tell me I can do something, I believe you. Sometimes I think you have more faith in me than I have in myself. It’s really hard to explain in words what you have done for me, but for everything I am eternally grateful.
You may never end up reading this, but if you do then I’d like to say from the bottom of my heart; Thank you for believing in me, thank you for inspiring me and it is an honour to call you a friend.